Hired six Freedom Fellows through our Youth Employment Program to lead creative clubs, plan RFP trips, and determine policies at the RFP. Funding secured through 2021.
Fellows attended Facing Race - one of the largest national convening’s on racial justice in Detroit, MI.
Fellows have spoken at Teach for America summits, on Capital Hill, and met with local state representatives to discuss issues of educational and racial inequity in Rosedale.
High-School Fellows score over 2 points higher than the average ACT score for West Bolivar School District
90% of Fellows improved reading and math scores during Freedom Summer, 2018
8 Fellows on Principal’s list; Fellow named Salutatorian of class
100% Promotion rate to next grade level
Traveled over 7000 miles in 2017, visiting Baltimore, Washington D.C., New Orleans, Selma, Birmingham, Montgomery, Jackson, and Detroit
Mr. Arthur Evans III
“Before I joined the RFP, I had never left Bolivar County. Since then, I’ve traveled to Baltimore, Detroit, and New Orleans. I rode on a plane; it was so scary… The RFP has let me explore what I’m interested in, and meet new people and see new places.”
Ms. Ja’Mya Payne
“The RFP like… helps us advocate for the things that our school isn’t giving us. I went from getting C’s and D’s to the Salutatorian of my 8th grade class, and now I’m an employee for the RFP. It shows us new stuff about the world that we didn’t know… it inspired me to become a sociologist when I grow up, so that I can talk about these issues and make changes”.
90% Retention of Freedom Fellows from Summer to Fall programming
Over half of Summer TA’s are natives of the Mississippi Delta, two are Rosedale natives. 50% of undergraduate TA’s return to work additional summers
Raised over $250,000 to support Fellows in Rosedale; served over 100 Fellows since 2015.
In 2018, the RFP launched it’s parent & community board, which is developing a strategic plan for the RFP. The president of this board will be nominated to the RFP executive board in 2019.
8 Fellows Published in the Sunflower County Freedom Project Literary Magazine
Production of over 10 films since our inaugural course in Freedom Summer, 2017.
Awarded $5,000 by Museum on Main Street to shoot and produce a seven-minute documentary on the Port of Rosedale for the traveling ‘Waterways’ exhibit, which is an adjunct of the National Smithsonian Museum.
Partnership with Blue Magnolia Films to produce five short photo documentaries on the history of Rosedale. These films were shown to over 2,000 people at an unveiling at the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum in Jackson, MS.
Mr. Izeiah Stewart
“I started coming to the RFP in 2018, after I moved here from Chicago. The staff at the RFP believe in me, even when I don’t do right… they show me a lot of patience and love.”
Mr. Chandler Rogers
“The RFP has helped me come out of my comfort zone… I don’t know what I would do without the RFP...; I wouldn’t have a job, wouldn’t have traveled much, and never would have learned how to write poetry.”
Ms. Frakes served as a Math TA for Freedom Summer 2015, coming from James Madison University in Virginia. Since completing her internship, Ms. Frakes has declared as an IDLS major with a focus on Elementary Education. In addition to her studies, Ms. Frakes is also a Resident Advisor on campus and has begun mentoring at Big Brothers, Big Sisters in Harrisonburg, VA. She had this to say about her time at the Rosedale Freedom Project:
"We all came into it knowing it would be a learning experience for us and not once did I feel like I didn’t have a support system when I doubted myself. I saw in my students' work that they were improving. I saw that I was making a difference...
"I left Mississippi with a number of kids who touched my life and taught me how to love the world and myself... a new appreciation for my upbringing and for the education I attained... the realization that teaching is my passion... [and] with a greater understanding of racial issues, the meaning of diversity, and the importance of loving one another, despite our differences, in order to live in harmony...
"I am so grateful to be a part of something so unique that is truly changing the lives of the students, staff, and community of Rosedale, Mississippi."
Mr. Hoda served as a math Teacher-Advisor during Freedom Summer 2016, and is currently studying English as a Lucky Day Scholar at USM. Since his time at the RFP, Mr. Hoda has become a Campus Ambassador, Resident Advisor, the President of Advocacy for Civility, Change, Equality, Safety, and Social Justice (ACCESS), and intern for Kathryn Rehner's campaign for the Mississippi House of Representatives.
Jack had this to say about the impact of his experiences at the Rosedale Freedom Project:
"Working at the Freedom Project has meant so much more to me than I ever thought it would. As the 7th
grade math teacher, I was able to develop relationships with students that both pushed me to be a better teacher and encouraged them to chase after their education. My experience this summer has strengthened and solidified my passion for both education and social justice, while the relationships I have made with my fellow teachers and our director have developed into strong friendships that push me to grow as a teacher, student, and person. The work I have done and the relationships I have made this summer have played a great role in my continuing discovery of the plans I have for myself, my education, and my career."
Ms. Dubois is currently an undergraduate at Johns Hopkins University studying sociology and social policy. Originally from New York City, Ms. Dubois served for a year as a City Year volunteer in Baton Rouge; inspired by her work there, she discovered our program online and applied just in the knick of time! We're so thankful that she did, as she led a phenomenal 9th-grade math classroom during Freedom Summer 2017. Now, she hopes to either become a teacher or school-based counselor in the future. After the summer, Ms. Dubois had this to say:
“Whenever I call home or explain to friends what I am doing this summer, one of the aspects of the RFP I am proudest to communicate is that I am working for an organization that puts all the knowledge and skills into students and allows them to take the reins. I say that this has shifted the orientation of my life because I know that whichever kids I work with next I will work hard to employ this trust and empower my students as leaders... [W]orking at the RFP this summer has taught me how important it is to trust (and empower) those around you to carry out a communal vision. As I write this, I am seeing Ms. Edwards taking pictures with the camera, or Ms. Greenidge checking in to the Planetarium. I see the ninth graders reading A Gathering of Old Men together in study session. The students own the RFP, and I hope that I can teach whichever students I work with next the same sense of ownership.”
Mr. Stewart is currently an undergraduate at Harvard University studying computer science. He enjoys boxing, writing code, and playing video games. As a native Mississippian, Mr. Stewart saw how difficult it was for students from the state to succeed, and joined the RFP team with a determination to set an example and be of service to young people who find themselves in a similar situation to his own youth. After Freedom Summer 2017, Mr. Stewart offered these reflections:
“When I read within Down to the Crossroads that the Meredith March traveled down Highway 51, I thought to myself, “I use that road to go to Batesville at least once a week”. Being able to learn such an important fact was eye-opening to me. Before coming to the RFP, I felt that I knew a lot about the racial history here in the Delta, but I realized that there is still a lot to learn.”
“[T]he RFP has helped me to see the complex web of problems that has led the Mississippi school system to arrive at the point that it is at. Learning about the history of racial injustices (and especially how it ties into education) has been one of the greatest things that I will take away from my time at the RFP. I see a lot of things going on in the world that I couldn’t see before, and it has helped me to re-evaluate the way in which my education was handled.”
Ms. Margolis is currently an undergraduate at Carleton College majoring in History with a minor in educational studies and vocal performance. Ms. Margolis first heard of the Rosedale Freedom Project when she was still in High-school on a Civil Rights Trip through the deep south, and came to complete her senior project on educational issues in Rosedale. For one month, Ms. Margolis lived with a host family, attended West Bolivar High School, and developed reading curriculum with Mr. Smith. After that visit, she was hooked, and help the RFP complete its inaugural Spring Break trip to Baltimore, MD and Washington D.C. where Fellows stayed with host families of The Park School. Ms. Margolis returned to the RFP as a Summer Teaching Advisor in the Summer of 2018 to teach 7th grade reading. Reflecting on her experience, Ms. Margolis offered these reflections:
“Since first coming to work at the RFP last April, the organization, the Freedom Fellows, and the Rosedale community have become an integral part of my life. It has been an honor to teach and work more closely with Freedom Fellows.”
“The RFP has shown me what Love looks like. I have never experienced the kind of love lI have for the Freedom Fellows, for my fellow co-workers, to the space, the town, and the work itself. That love is so sustaining and is the reason I will continue (as I have for the last year) to think about the Freedom Project on the daily until I can return.”
Ms. Hooper is currently a Junior at the Mississippi University for Women studying Speech Pathology. In addition to her studies, Ms. Hooper is extremely active in her sorority, Zeta Phi Beta, in addition to being a member of The Highlander Society and volunteering at the speech therapy clinic in Columbus, MS. Ms. Hooper began working as a teacher advisor in the summer of 2017 as our 7th grade math instructor. She returned to teach math this past summer, and hopes to teach it again in 2019. A former graduate of the Sunflower County Freedom, Ms. Hooper is honored to give back to the Freedom Project Network as a teacher: “I have always wanted to help students that are from the MS Delta. I feel that students will stay focused since there are staff members and TA's that have went through the same education system as them, grown up in similar communities as them, and all share they same qualities, determination and hope. Since the students and I share similar backgrounds, they could open up to me and work harder.” Speaking on why she loves the Delta, Ms. Hooper had this to say: “The Mississippi Delta is a unique place because it is so beautiful. Since I am from the Delta, I have always been aware of how much history circulated here. However, I never realized how pretty it was until this summer. The RFP has made me grow a love for the MS Delta that can't be replaced.”
Without our supporters, we would be unable to do this work. Generous contributions from our donors, corporate and individual, ensure that our students have access to top-quality instruction, books and classroom materials, and transportation to and from the program. The efforts of our partners allow the RFP to bring in the best summer Teacher-Advisors and to give our students access to high-quality arts instruction from experienced local artists.
Leaders for Educational Equity
David & Barbara Hirschhorn Foundation
The Chrest Foundation
The RFP is proud to be supported by over 200 active donors from across the United States. These donors are a testament to the grassroots motivation for our organization, and continue to provide almost 20% of operations funds for the RFP. Listed below are our largest supporters:
The Aidinoff Family
The Guptill Family
Jed & Amanda Turner
Cynthia & Allen Morgan
The Margolis Family
Michael Roswell & Jackie Specht
The Fitchen Family
Nan & Mike Sanders